Chapter 45

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The Bellen assembly line had not seen this much production in years.  Anyone walking into the studio would have been surprised to learn that.  Will had been at the electric wheel all night and on the worktables he already amassed several pieces for the ornamentation: leaves, ivy, birds all created with the clay leavings from the wheel.  Other worktables were covered with light mossy green ceramics glazed earlier in the week.  The only area of the studio that did not smell like clay was over by the dingy plastic coffee maker with the pot, cracked on the rim and burnt on the bottom, sitting half full on a stained burner.  Each time Will poured a cup of coffee some would leak out onto the burner and the alkaloid smell would fill that section of the room.  Will kept a fresh cup beside him throughout the night to help maintain a whirlwind around the studio.  Now one sat on the worktable where Will just finished aligning and organizing the pieces in rows across the top, staging them for the next step in the line.  He leaned back against the worktable his eyes fixed on the door to the adjoining kiln rooms, and started to think about firing up one of the kilns.  His elbow in one hand, Will plied his Zippo in his other near his chin, his thumb maneuvering the lighter so that the lid would begin to lift on the spring and then force back closed against his finger.  He did this again and again, making a clicking noise every time the lighter snapped shut.  The math did not take up much of his mind.  He knew which pieces would need to go into electric kilns and which would need to go into the gas.  There were two small electric kilns by the door that could be filled with the smaller pieces from the table, they were ornamental pieces, and for a uniform result would be electric fired for the oxidation.  The large pots and urns had to go into the gas kiln to get a proper firing, he did not mind the subtle differences of reduction firing caused by the gas.  He dwelled on whether he wanted to fire the gas giants up now, after being up all night, or wait until he had slept.  The electric kilns were like little space capsules and were as easy to run as a microwave oven.  The gas kilns would have to be watched with a keen eye.  Will was not ready to throw in the towel and head to sleep quite yet, though he certainly did not want to babysit the kiln.  Then an epiphany, Nathan was supposed to be his babysitter, and Will could tell him to babysit the kiln.  All Nathan would have to do was to let Will know if anything went wrong.  Will would come in and do the temperature regulation himself.  That would give Will time to continue at the wheel and, if he needed to sleep, Nathan could grab him.

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